The Heart of a Committed and Compassionate Leader
“Why let the Egyptians say, ‘Their God rescued them with the evil intention of slaughtering them in the mountains and wiping them from the face of the earth’? Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people!”
As the Israelites were worshiping before the golden calf, feasting, drinking, and reveling, the Lord revealed to Moses, who was high upon Mt. Sinai, what was happening below. Moreover, God spoke of plans to wipe out the Israelites: “Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation” (32:10).
Moses responded by trying “to pacify the LORD his God” (32:11). With various arguments, he tried to talk God out of his apparent plan to wipe out the Israelites. Moses did this even though the Lord promised that he would not only survive, but also be the father of a great nation, rather like Abraham. Instead of pursuing his self-interest, Moses begged God to “turn away” from his fierce anger (using the Hebrew verb shuv, which is the basic verb meaning “to repent”; 32:12). Moses urged the Lord: “Change your mind [nchm] about this terrible disaster” (32:12). And that’s exactly what the Lord did! He “changed his mind [nchm] about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people” (32:14).
This passage, reminiscent of Abram’s intercession for Sodom in Genesis 18, raises all sorts of interesting questions about prayer and God’s sovereignty. These are valid inquiries, though I’m not going to deal with them here. Rather, I want to focus on Moses’ heart as a leader. If he had been seeking his own glory, he would surely have concurred with God’s plan to wipe out the people. After all, in this scenario, Moses would end up playing the role of Abraham, as the father of the nation, in addition to the role as lawgiver and deliverer. Yet Moses cared more about the well-being of his people than his own fame.
Moreover, in his intercession, Moses showed his passion, not just for the Israelites, but also for God and God’s own glory. He did not want the Egyptians to have an opportunity to malign God (32:12). Thus Moses revealed the heart of a truly godly leader. He was committed to and compassionate for the people under his authority. And he was also committed to and passionate for God’s glory. As a leader, he sought what was best for his people and, even more, for the Lord himself.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What motivates and guides you in your leadership? If your passion of God’s glory were to grow in your heart, what difference might this make in your daily life and leadership?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for the example of Moses, who turned down an enhancement of his personal glory for the sake of the people in his charge . . . and for the sake of your own glory.
I want to be a leader like Moses. Where you have given me the opportunity to lead, whether in my workplace, my family, my church, or in the larger community, may I seek other than my own advantage. Give me, Lord, a compassionate heart for those whom I am to lead. May I want their best, even if it costs me.
And may I want your best most of all! Give me a renewed passion for your glory. May I seek to glorify you in every aspect of my life, even and especially in my exercise of leadership. Amen.